April 15, 2015

snow day

Thank you all for your sweet comments on my grandma's post yesterday. It was heartwarming to read each of your comments. I'm sorry that I didn't reply to you individually, I've been at a loss for words. 

We woke up to quite the Spring snow storm. I'm pretty sure I have swept a good 6 inches off of my car. 


Since the snow botched all my other plans for today, my girl thought it would be a good idea to go through all the bolts of fabric and pick out her favorites. So far she's picked about a dozen from Cotton + Steels Basics. I cut a strip from each bolt, which I've been instructed is going to be a new quilt for her, and she's going to help with sewing.


Her ambition makes me smile.
I also love the lime and turquoise bits she mixed in with the pinks, purples and corals.


I wonder what she has in mind for her quilt ...



April 14, 2015

1930-2015


I don't usually get very personal on this blog. I never really know how personal I should be. 

This post is going to be very personal. 

Today, I want to share with you about my grandma and the amazing woman she was. 

I made this quilt for my grandma about a year and a half ago, when she broke her toes from a fall. You can  read more about it here. After I gave this quilt to my grandma, she hung it on her front railing. It was the first thing anyone could see when walking through her front door. She passed it several times a day, as it lined the hallway to her bedroom. I'm not sure that she ever used it as a quilt. That's okay. She displayed it in her home, where it could be seen. I'm glad she did. I know she loved it.
Today, this quilt means more to me than I could ever express. 


The beginning of March marked my grandmother's descend. Though she has been suffering with minor ailments for quite some time, March is when it all changed. My grandmother was admitted to the CICU for a heart attack. However, she went to the hospital because of Bronchitis. The medications she was taking for it caused her to be nauseous and throw up. While she was in the emergency room, the doctor wanted a CT scan, and discovered she had had a heart attack in the near past. She has had several problems with congestive heart failure throughout the past 15 years. She had a double by-pass 10 or 12 years ago, along with 3 stints. The CT scan showed that the stints were starting to fail and one had been dislodged. She had another surgery, replacing the stints. When she was discharged, it was recommended she check in to a rehab facility to help get her strength back. Due to arthritis/bursitis in her hip, she has needed assistance while walking. It was hard for her to bare her full weight. Most days she preferred to simply sit at home in her big, comfy chair by the window. She was in a lot of pain. Rehab wore her out completely. She slept most the day. She stopped eating.
My grandmother at age 5
Each day was uncertain. Although she was worn, she showed progress. We wanted her to progress. We wanted to be hopeful. I visited her nearly every day. I brought her home-made smoothies, with protein and spinach, in the hopes she would at least drink those. Most the time she did, but with great pushing to just have a sip. She had good days and bad days. And scary days, days we thought we would lose her. She became incoherent, unaware of her surroundings, unresponsive to those talking to her. The next day, she would be sitting up, involved in conversation, even singing. She always sang. After 3 weeks of being in rehab, she was admitted back into the hospital for multiple heart attacks. Her heart now pumping at 35%, she would never survive another surgery. She was too weak. Hope for a recovery had been replaced with despair as the decision to bring her home was made. For the first time in my life, I saw my grandpa cry. As heartbreaking as it was, he knew he had to bring her home. He knew he would have to let her go. A few hours later, She was released into family care. The following days were harrowing. My kids were on Spring Break, we spent that time at her house; helping to administer pain medications, making her comfortable, and mostly holding her hand. My grandma passed away in the morning, on April 3, 2015, while surrounded by her family. I am so grateful I was able to be there with her. I am even more grateful that she is no longer in pain, suffering. The quilt I made her covered her, while comforting us.

My grandmother at age 15
My grandma was such an amazing woman. To put her life into a few words doesn't seem possible. To put my memories of her into a few words is the least I can do. She did everything: sew, quilt, crochet, knit, cook, can, bake, garden, paint, scrapbook, and on top of all that, she raised 5 children. She taught my dad to play piano, who in turn, taught me. I used to fall asleep on her kitchen floor while she cooked. When I was 9, I wanted to learn to knit. My grandma patiently taught me, sat with me, watched me. I didn't feel that confident with my knitting, and as a result, didn't do it long. I made a few hot pads and wash cloths, but don't think it went beyond that. When I was 5 or 6, she made me a doll. It was about half my size. I loved it. I took it everywhere with me. One night, I played a little too rough with it, and it ripped - beyond repair. I was devastated. My grandma made many dolls, she even replicated cabbage patch dolls. They used to line the walls in a spare bedroom. She has since moved from that house. I'm not sure what happened to many of those dolls. She now just has a few of them on display in the guest room.


I spent Easter Sunday with my grandpa. He showed me where a couple of the quilts my grandma made were and I was able to take a few pictures.



I tried to get a close up of her hand quilting. I hope you can see it okay. 


I love how my grandma labeled her quilts. 
I also used embroidery floss for the label on the quilt I made her.




Here's a better picture of her hand quilting. 
She was the driving force that made me want to be better at hand quilting.


A couple of years ago, my grandma gave me a few of her blocks. I think they were the start of a quilt, I'm not even sure if she has the fabric still, or which pattern she was following. It had been a while since she made them; and since she wasn't able to quilt the way she once did, she thought I could do something with them. I haven't dared do anything with them, yet. I've been thinking a lot about those blocks. I'm hoping to be able to go through her boxes of fabric to see if there is coordinating fabrics for these blocks, that I might be able to make a nice wall hanging, or something, in tribute of her.

She used to hand stitch blocks while she traveled during the summer. It was not paper piecing. She was able to stitch a quarter-inch seam with precision, no guide needed. She showed me a couple of those blocks when I first started quilting. I remember being so impressed by my grandma's skills. It made me want to hand stitch a quilt too. I have yet to stitch blocks the way she did, but I am working on an EPP hexagon quilt.
my grandmother's block. I have 1 more of the same, that is about 4x as big
flying geese from my grandmother
As I mentioned earlier, she also did knit and crochet. Here are a couple of the afghans she made:




She never missed a birthday, holiday or any other celebration. She had parties just for fun. Those were always the best parties, usually in the summertime with homemade pie and ice cream. There was a dinner or two (or four) where she made something to bring, but it wasn't until she arrived that she remembered she left it at home, in the fridge. She was always the first one to laugh about it.

That's me, asleep on the kitchen floor at my grandma's house
She was a huge support in my life. She encouraged learning, she did all she could to help, she gave advice - whether you wanted it or not, but it was always needed. When I started canning, she gave me quite a few of her jars, that she wouldn't be needing anymore. When I first started quilting, she let me borrow a couple of her quilting books. She also gave me a couple magazines. In one magazine, there was a mail-in card to get a book. It was the Better Homes And Gardens Complete Guide To Quilting. I sent the card in. It wasn't until after I sent it that I realized it was a pre-printed card with my grandma's address. I asked her to let me know when it arrived, and I was going to pay for it. My grandma never let me know it arrived. Instead, she held on to it for my birthday. 
My beautiful grandmother at age 65.
One of my most valued possessions is a quilt she made for my birth. Not knowing if I would be a girl or not, she made the quilt purely out of hope (and my mother's intuition I would be a girl). It was the only thing I wanted with me in the hospital when my girl was born, who now sleeps with it every night. There might be a few stains and stitches are coming out. Those are the marks that is loved and well used.


I am fortunate to have had this woman as my grandmother. I'm even more lucky to have had her in my life for as long as I did. I'm glad for the advice which she always gave. I'm glad for the lessons she taught me. I'm glad for the love she showed. The days leading up to her passing, she did not speak much, but maybe a 'yes' or 'no'. The day before she passed, it was the same. For most the day, she had not said a word, just laid with her eyes closed, perhaps she was sleeping, or maybe just quietly listening to the family commiserate. We pulled out her photo albums, laughed how she 'photo-shopped' pictures before photoshop was around, shared stories of her many travels, how she met my grandpa and the memories we had at their first home. I was leaving for the day and wanted to tell her goodbye. I held her hand, kissed her cheek and told her I love her. I thought she might be sleeping. Instead, she squeezed my hand and whispered 'I love you ... I love you'. That was always the greatest gift Grandma could give. I am blessed that she always shared it with me.

Grandma opening her new quilt


April 12, 2015

The Making Of A Dress

A few week ago, I took my little girl to the Riley Blake warehouse, and let her pick out which fabric she wanted for her Easter dress. She picked Wildflower Spot from the Wildflower Meadow collection by Melly & Me. I adore this print!




Instead of having 2 spaghetti straps like the original pattern, I changed it up bit by adding navy trim for more of a ruffle sleeve, and sewing the second strap like bias tape to the trim. I also added the same trim to the bottom of the skirt.



Of course, the dress has to have a good twirl! 



She wasn't in the mood to cooperate. It was a bit of a struggle getting pictures that show the dress; but, when I saw this picture, it was worth all the hassle.